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The Importance of Health and Safety in the Workplace

April 28th, the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, is an International Labour Organisation-recognised day to promote safe and healthy work environments, as well as day to remember casualties of workplace accidents around the world.

Businesses are responsible for the health and safety of their employees, including self-employed people. Health and safety laws protect employees as well as members of the public from workplace hazards. The first step is to select someone with the skills and experience necessary to help manage health and safety. Owners of smaller businesses and owner-operated businesses can general appointed a person themselves. For larger companies, a health and safety expert may be needed.

A written policy will provide information on how health and safety will be managed in the business. A policy lets employees and other people know about your commitment to health and safety, and what procedures are in place. Any business with five or more employees must have a written risk assessment or policy. Smaller businesses with less than five workers do not have to meet this requirement. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has templates to help businesses develop a risk assessment and policy. A risk assessment to determine potential and existing dangers in the workplace will help inform the policy.

Businesses are required to control potential dangers that can cause harm. A risk assessment provides information on what is currently being done to protect employees, and what other measures may be needed. Businesses are not legally required to remove every risk, but they are expected to implement reasonable measures that control dangers. There are some risks that cannot be predicted, and an employer is not expected to put in place controls for unforeseeable risks.

Employers must engage employees on health and safety policies, and there should also be a mechanism in place for employees to raise concerns about health and safety. Staff should have a role in informing decision related to managing health and safety in their workplace. Engagement can be done directly, or employers might want to hire an external party to consult employees on health and safety issues.

Businesses also need to provide information and instructions for their employees so that everyone understands workplace risks. Appropriate and adequate training must also be available. Any information shared with employees should also be shared with contractors and others who might face the same risks when visiting or working in the business. Any business with employees must also display a health and safety law poster or provide a leaflet or pocket card with information on health and safety regulations in the UK.

To ensure a healthy and safe workplace, certain facilities must also be provided. These include welfare facilities such as toilets, drinking water, rest and meal areas, and places to store clothing and change if required. Employers must also ensure a work environment with good ventilation, a reasonable temperature, suitable lighting, enough space to carry out work-related duties, and a clean workplace. For a safe work environment, employers must ensure equipment and the property is properly maintained, that floors and traffic routes are clear, windows can be opened and cleaned safely, and that transparent doors and walls are protected or made from safety glass or similar material. First aid arrangements and information must also be present, including a first aid box and information on people appointed to arrange or provide first aid. Certain injuries, incidents and work-related diseases must be reported, while mines, quarries, factories and all businesses with 10 or more employees must also keep an accident log.

The HSE provides guidance on how to manage health and safety, regardless of how big or small a business. It also has a wealth of information on best practices, as well as tools to help businesses control potential risks and hazards at work.



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1 Comment so far

  1. John Duckworth on May 3rd, 2015

    Moved from Wigan some years ago to :-
    STS Drapes Ltd
    Constelation Mill
    Higher Ainsworth Road
    M26 4AD
    0161 222 4131

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